For more than 40,000 years Aboriginal people lived in the coastal areas near Derbal Yaragan or the Swan River.
At the time of European settlement, the Mooro people, part of the Whadjuck Noongar group, were custodians of the land from Yanchep through to Fremantle.
With the onset of Birak or first summer (December to January), the Mooro moved to the coast in search of fish, shellfish and cooling breezes. Mudurup Rocks, the headland at the south of Cottesloe Beach, was an important fishing site. Mudurup means ‘place of the yellowfin whiting’. From December to March the whiting spawned in the shallow waters off the rocks and provided an abundant and reliable food source.
Today it remains an important spiritual place for Aboriginal people and traditional stories link Mudurup Rocks to the wardung or crow. Anthropology from the Shed has more. It is a registered site under the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
Red-eyed wattle (Acacia cyclops). Ground seeds were used for making damper and juice from the leaves for treating skin problems.
Mudurup is also a place where you can see evidence of geological history. The layers of rocks at The Cove show how sea levels have varied over millennia and you cans see the different layers in this post from Cottesloe Coastcare. As recently as 7000 years ago you could still walk to Rottnest as shown in this map (PDF).
The local vegetation was also a rich source of food as well as medicines. Fruits, leaves and seeds from plants such as coastal pigface, quandongs and red-eyed wattle were all part of the Noongar diet and medicine chest. Surprisingly more than seventy original plant species still survive in Cottesloe. Cottesloe Coastcare has more about Cottesloe’s local plants here.
Kolbogo or coastal pigface (Carpobrotus virescens). The fruit provided a sweet, thirst quenching, summer food and an infusion of the crushed leaves was used to treat stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Quandong (Santalum acuminata). Fruits were eaten fresh or dried and the kernel cracked to release its edible nut.